Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A curious incident with the phone in the night time

It had been a long night by the time it reached 9:30 yesterday. We - members of the theater group - were seated in Barrista, 100 ft road and were discussing ideas for a play that's still on paper. There's a certain charm to the Barrista in 100 ft road - it's open, has excellent service and enough corners for one to tuck oneself in. And for some strange reason, the world beyond your table dims into oblivion as you sit there and create a cloud of thought and ideas around you. We were there, doing the same thing when a stranger came close to our table and suddenly picked something from our table and started running.

The first reaction was curiosity as we thought someone flicked a lighter on the table till we realized the conspicuous absence of a 25,000 rs worth mobile phone. I rushed out with ~L, the girl it belonged to and saw the guy running through the maze of cars into a dark alley on the other side. A single moment and I started running behind him, chased him to the other side of the road. But before I could get there, he took one of those million dark alleys that lead to the same slum which probably is a haven for all his like minded accomplices. I got into the slum and kept calling her number, but the faint vibration of the silenced mobile was too vague to catch through the buzz of the slum that late in the night. A stray dog, a loud TV, curious women and a shady shop keeper who for some reason had a sly smile on his face all the time was all that I was left with. I walked back defeated to the coffee house where everyone had information we could use - we blocked the connection, learnt how to block the phone, picked an A4 size paper to write a complaint to the nearby police station. Yellow T-shirt, thin, dark, 5 feet eight inches tall - a description that would fit a thousand souls in any neighbourhood.

10:45 in the night, I accompanied one of the waiters from Barrista to Indira nagar police station. Assistant sub inspector Siddhanandhappa joined us in a couple of minutes and stared through us as if we didn't exist for the next few minutes till boredom got the better of him and he asked us why we were there. The guy from barrista explained him the case in kannada - the ASI gave me a scowl and a lecture in kannada for 15 minutes on how I should be responsible about my personal belongings; something I had neither the ability nor the inclination to understand. I could empathize with him - there was nothing much he could do. I told him that as a conscientious citizen, I wanted to let him know that such things happened in the locality. He however wasn't ready to file an FIR and told me he could help me cancel the SIM if I could write him a letter that it wasn't stolen but misplaced. I could only smile - what scruples of responsibility. I thanked him and went back to barrista. 11:15 in the night.

At around 12:30, I left Barrista. Ratan wanted to drop me home so that I was safe. But I wanted to walk - walk at least to tell myself that I could do that, that I can enjoy this walk at 1 in the night despite the events of tonight. I was playing back the whole event in my mind wondering all that I could have done - I lost a whole minute watching the guy run, I didn't scream and get anyone's attention and I didn't manage to catch a good look at him to later tell the inspector something, anything that might have been useful. Just as I reached the doors of ISRO, I could sense a guy riding in a vehicle coming close to me and touching my laptop bag. I instinctively raised my hand to pull him down and realized it was just a group of youngsters who wanted to play a prank with me in the middle of night, little realizing it might have cost them their lives. They laughed at me and disappeared into nothingness. I didn't sleep too well last night - I can't put my finger on exactly what's bothering me - the safety net that I so take for granted under the sophistication of coffee shops and air conditioned offices I live in being invaded so unexpectedly; my utter inability in handling such a situation despite all the world I assumed I have seen; the callousness of the social infrastructure that I belong to and its sincere efforts to pass the buck; The indiference with which people see such things as if it's no big deal. I don't know. But it sucks!

4 Comments:

Blogger Sachin said...

Tut Tut My son, don't you read the papers which so loudly scream back at you about the dangers lurking in the dark of night even in Bangalore ? err..that shud be "especially in Bangi" !! opportunity galore here. Nowhere's too safe huh?

11:55 AM  
Blogger Rathish said...

yeah granny! papers I read but this happening to muthu kumar we saw the last time we went to the market together and happening to US in a place like Barrista are two different things don't you think :) Yeah man - no place is safe place now.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Kumari said...

"no place is safe place now"
-- but the outside is much safer than the inside :)

1:47 PM  
Blogger Rajasree said...

Is it true that you just can't sit back and relax with your own piece of mind?? Is it the inside that poses the dark threat or the outside which has so many shades of dark and grey?? It is not the matter of Bangalore or with a cellphone it is matter of the "great thought" - indeed a value for money-redefined for the one who stole the look of the night...

4:06 PM  

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